The Days Before the Flood (Wine Blogging in Mainstream Media, and What’s Coming Next)

Vinted on September 14, 2009 binned in commentary, wine blogging

“Who cares what wine bloggers have to say, after all?”

That question has been posed (with full negative connotation) by at least two established wine personalities as recently as a few months ago – one the most influential wine critic in the world, the other a long-standing wine writer and editor.

Well, I have a answer for them.  Rather, I should say that the established media has answered their question for me.

The question should probably be amended now to read:

“Who cares what wine bloggers have to say?  Aside from two of the most preeminent newspapers in the United States, I mean? Oh… wait a second… Uhmm…”

Last week, wine bloggers were quoted in both the NY Times and the L.A. Times.  In the case of the NY Times, two wine bloggers were quoted, actually, in a story about a wine video blogger that was written by someone who likes to think of himself as a blogger (but to be fair is paid by NY Times so some would argue it’s not a ‘true’ blog).

I think that my feelings were summed up best by the character Sydney Fife in the comedy I Love You, Man when he cheered on his best friend at a fencing match, heckling the opponent with the timeless phrase: “Suck it, Gil!!!

Before I get too gleeful here, I should note that I understand that our place in the wine world, as bloggers, is still small. I’m not too big for my britches just yet.  But… the tide is indeed turning, and the flood is indeed coming.  Detractors, no matter how well-established, can no longer tell us that the flood is not coming, because the first wave has trickled onto their floor and even their socks are soaking wet…

In an email interview that I did for Tom Wark’s Fermentation, I was asked about the impact of wine bloggers on the industry as a whole:

Do you believe wine blogs have made any marked impact on the wine industry or wine culture?

“I think as a whole bloggers need to move on from this topic, actually.  If this topic was a play, it would be written by Pinter and would involve the lead characters doing a lot of wailing and gnashing of teeth, Old Testament style.  And furrowed brows – a lot of furrowed brows.The data is in, we **have** made and **are** making an impact – it’s just an indisputable fact.   Now… what are gonna *do* with our influence? *That’s* the question we need to be thinking about collectively now.”

In other words, the question for us now is, What’s next for wine bloggers?

I think I have a potential answer for that one, too.

We need to band together.  It’s only in collective power that we can start to move mountains, as they say.  The Wine Bloggers Conference has proven how effective this approach can be, and now there are efforts such as Palate Press, which are also bringing wine bloggers together in interesting ways.  Do we know what the future will bring? No. Do I think the future lies in a fragmented population of a handful of influential wine bloggers who would stand alone as the cream of the crop of the wine blogging community?  No.  No way.

To the detractors, I’d offer this piece of advice:

Life is like a river, and there are two ways that you can approach it.  The first is to go with the flow.  The second is to stand in the middle of the stream, dig your heels in, and spread your arms forward in a futile attempt to stop the flow or alter its direction.  Life is significantly more fun and interesting when you approach it the first way.

When the flood comes, grab a piece of flotsam or jetsam, and come along for the ride.  There’s enough room in that impending stream for everybody.







  • Steve Raye

    That's what I'm talking about! What's particularly interesting to me as a marketer representing wineries, country wine trade orgs, as well as spirit companies is the very different perception of blogging in the two categories. In spirits, bloggers have been acknowledged and accepted as signfiicant "players" by both the media as well as suppliers, and the spirit companies are scrambling to figure out the best way to work with them. In our case, we've been doing that collaboratively with them. On the wine side, you're right…lots of teeth gnashing and navel-gazing. That's why I (we..l.because you volunteered to participate, your dude-ship) am trying to get the wine and spirit blogger thought leaders together to compare, contrast and share best practices as this social media beast keeps morphing.

    • 1WineDude

      I'm in!

      Posting articles like this one are always tricky for me.

      On the one hand, it's sort of like more navel-gazing and talking about talking about wine, instead of talking about wine. On the other hand, it's current events in the wine world and might be helpful for the growing number of 'consumer' wine bloggers – people who are folks that love wine, and are learning more about it, and are blogging about it to help themselves learn. They aren't super-serious about their wine blog, but they don't dismiss it as flippant, either. I think a lot of those people are 'intermediate' wine lovers and they constitute a growing percentage of the readership here at

      So, I guess what I'm trying to say is, I want those people involved in the movement! :-)

  • Richard Beaudin

    Relatively new wine blogger, but interested in collaborating … let me know!

  • GrapeEnvyGuy

    Bloggers in all different venues are changing the game to some extent. BUT. One problem that I have with many wineblogs is that you get the sense that the blogger really, really wants to use their blog as a way to get into the inner circle- a wine column, or a PR gig, or what have you. I read blog posts about a wine that I know to be every bit as good as week-old dishwater mived with soured chicken broth, and the reviews run the gamut from fawning to trying to say nothing, just to be inoffensive to the winery. And yet, I run into wine industry professionals, and when wine X comes up, no one likes it. Are some bloggers just phoning it in, so they don't lose the free schwag, the cellar tours, the discounts, etc? I think they are.

    Blogs should have teeth. At least, I think so.

    • 1WineDude

      Wine needs honest OpEd. I'm not saying that you're wrong about some wine blogs, but I'll bet we can level the same criticism of begin too soft against many forms of media, including established wine mags, etc.

      • GrapeEnvyGuy

        Oh, absolutely! That's part of the frustration- look at the terrible job our "Fourth Estate" does, refusing to ask the hard questions for fear of losing "access." Screw that!

        • @suburbanwino

          crap. I need to change my strategy :) Seriously, good points, GrapeEnvyGuy. I try to minimize the number of wine "reviews" and critiques as possible, because I can't say a novice's palate is any less important than a pro's. I'd like to think that smart people can see through shameless pandering. Bottom line in my opinion is that wine blogging can be serious, humorous, intuitive, or artistic. All expressions, though, should bolster the fact that wine is fun, and talking about wine is fun. That simple notion has been boxed up and held hostage by the snobs, and they're wetting themselves because it's harder to profit off the novice-drinker's ignorance now.

          • Dale Cruse

            I think wine blogs that are nothing but tasting notes and awful photos of bottles and labels are completely unreadable. I have a friend whose blog is nothing but tasting notes. He's good at it, but I find it boring as shit. It does work as a cure for insomnia, however.

            "Cedar and tobacco on the nose with hints of lavender and zzzz…."

            • @suburbanwino

              I have awful photos covered already. damn cheap camera.

              • Dale Cruse

                The camera has nothing to do with it. Ansel Adams could make a cheap camera work.

              • 1WineDude

                Yeah, sure, but could he pick out hints of lavender?

              • Dale Cruse

                I heard that his camera bag smelled like leather.

  • Arthur


    "flotsam or jetsam" – rather catastrophic imagery….

    "Life's like a river in the mountains
    Life's like a sea without end"

    • 1WineDude

      I know… violent guy, right? :)

      • Arthur

        Nah, but implies a…. violent collapse.

        …and you missed the 1970s Scorpions reference. Dude………

        • 1WineDude

          Doh! I suck!

          But… I'm Still Loving You…? Does that count?

          • Arthur

            A decade and a half later but a piece that moves me to this day.

            Gonna have to do a refresher course on '70s and '80s metal bands….

  • Dale Cruse

    Wow, I got linked up here twice in one week?! I must be doing something right!

  • 1WineDude

    You're THE MAN!

    Of course, for a nominal fee I'd be happy to remove those links… your call… :-)

  • Dale Cruse

    That's okay – you can leave them. I wouldn't want to burden you. ;-)

    • 1WineDude

      How kind of you :-).

  • Steve Heimoff

    I'm not sure what's up, Dude, but for us both to use "flotsam" and "jetsam" in our blogs within 24 hours is eerie.

    • 1WineDude

      That is scary. Can't I do anything original?!??

      • Steve Heimoff

        [theme from Twilight Zone]
        Anyway, it will be interesting to see if the "band" approach works any better for bloggers than the solo approach! That's sort of the Huffington Post way, isn't it, and they seem to be doing pretty well (although they have Arianna's $$$ behind them).

  • Georgia Aquarium

    If you're looking for a great opportunity to get together and collaborate with your wine blogs, Georgia Aquarium encourages you to be a part of our annual wine tasting event, AquaVino. Georgia Aquarium’s AquaVino event is on October 29, 2009 from 7-10 p.m. This year’s event invites guests to “Sip, Savor and Sea” the wonders of the ocean. Exclusively for one night, guests will have the opportunity to enjoy more than 200 wines and 30 of Atlanta’s best restaurants. All proceeds from the event support the Aquarium’s state-of-the-art veterinary services facility through the Correll Center for Aquatic Animal Health. Please visit for more information.

    • 1winedude5036

      I was going to make smart-a** comment about pairing those wines with sushi… but I'll just keep quiet…

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